Harry Smith Anthology Remixed At CCA,Glasgow

By 24 Hour Museum Staff Published: 20 June 2008

a photograph of a man holding a crucifix

Jonathan Allen, Tommy Angel, 2007. © the artist

Exhibition notice - Harry Smith Anthology Remixed is on from June 21 to July 26 at Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow.

Harry Smith Anthology Remixed makes its Scottish premiere at the Centre for Contemporary Ars in Glasgow, following a successful tour to Sheffield and Newcastle upon Tyne.

Curated by Rebecca Shatwell of Newcastle’s alt.gallery, the exhibition brings together the work of 84 leading artists and musicians. Each artist was invited to make a visual artwork in response to one track from groundbreaking music release, the Anthology of American Folk Music.

a photograph of two men in a field - one seated in an armchair - dressed as native americans

Marcus Coates, Indian War Whoop, 2007. © the artist

Edited and complied by seminal New York artist, musicologist and experimental filmmaker Harry Smith, the Anthology was first published by Folkways in 1952.

It was comprised entirely of recordings issued between 1927 (the year electronic recording made accurate reproduction possible) and 1932 when the Depression stifled folk music sales. Today it is a cult album, considered by some as the Holy Grail of folk music compilations, and certainly recognised as the cornerstone of the American folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s.

Using the new LP technology to create an unbroken sequence of songs, Smith’s highly individual vision saw him divide his compilation into colour-coded sets, which represented three elements: air, fire and water.

Each of the 1952 sets incorporated an antique engraving of a single stringed instrument being tuned by a hand reaching down from the heavens, reflecting Harry Smith’s interest in mysticism, patterning and alchemy.

a silhouette showing a devil figure with a person on its back

Jad Fair, Old Lady and the Devil, 2007. © the artist

In 1991 this achievement was acknowledged when he received a Grammy Award, at which he proclaimed: “I’m glad to say my dreams came true. I saw America changed by music.”

The exhibition aims to create a new visual collection of the Anthology, to continue the collective history and revival of the work, as seen through the eyes of contemporary visual artists and musicians. Artists from Europe, Japan and the US, have contributed – reflecting a diverse and exciting range of practice including visual art, outsider art, comic book, design, craft and illustration.

Familiar names involved in the project read like a who’s who of alternative music and arts worlds. Outsider artist and musician Jad Fair has contributed artwork, as has folk singer Vashti Bunyan, as well as various members of the psychedelic and freak folk scene such as Yamataka EYE of Japanese cult band Boredoms, John Olson of Wolf Eyes and C. Spencer Yeh of Burning Star Core.

Major figures from the current new folk music scene are also involved, including Animal Collective, Espers and Feathers, whilst the roster of visual artists includes Ross Sinclair, Zoe Irvine, Derek Lodge, Vernon and Burns, Heather Leigh Murray and art collectives Royal Art Lodge, Paper Rad and Dearraindrop.

Visitors will also encounter soundtrack composer and musician Michael Nyman, post-punk collage artist Linder and the author, prankster and founder of the KLF, Bill Drummond.

For more information about the Anthology see: www.folkways.si.edu/project_initiatives.... For more on Harry Smith see www.harrysmitharchives.com.

alt.gallery is a gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne presenting international work by artists working at the intersection of visual art, music and sound. It is curated by Rebecca Shatwell and based within alt.vinyl record shop. The gallery website is www.altgallery.org.

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